Since Ashlynn Marracino’s dad died of a brain aneurysm in 2010, the 16-year-old has had a tradition of writing him a letter on his birthday, January 6. This year, she wrote the letter on a star-shaped a balloon, tell him, “You have missed so much and I miss you. And I love you, miss you like crazy!” She updated her dad on what she’s been up and apologized for missing his last phone call before pleading with him to send her a sign: “I don’t like how I never had you in my life. It’s not fair. Show me a sign please. Anything to let me know you’re there. I miss you so much and I want you back.” She sent the balloon up into the sky, where it floated 436 miles before landing the following day in a restaurant parking lot in Auburn, California. When a customer handed the balloon to restaurant owner Lisa Swisley, she knew she was looking at something special. “I noticed there was writing on it and I got very teary-eyed,” she told ABC News. She felt it had come to her for a reason. Keep reading »
When I headed back home to Michigan for the first Christmas since my dad’s death, I didn’t expect it to get difficult until the holiday actually arrived. Since I got here this weekend, my routine hasn’t reflected anything he’d normally be a part of – I’ve been puttering around the house, out with high school friends, working. I flew home for Thanksgiving too, and that had been tough, but it didn’t hit me until my family sat down for dinner. I assumed it would be the same this time around – that his absence wouldn’t be painfully obvious until Christmas Eve and Christmas itself. HAH. Instead, I felt the sadness the moment I walked through the door to my mom’s house. Keep reading »
I love the natural high of exercise. To me, it serves as a kind of pseudo anti-depressant* that puts me in an instant good mood, and I like to alternate new workout plans to give me something to look forward to during dull or stressful stretches of time (like, say, the bulk of winter). For most of my life, largely because of Lululemon models that looked nothing like me and my overall hatred of gym class, I thought of myself as the opposite of a “fitness person.” I was on a sports team for a few years of high school, but I still felt like I’d never be someone who exercised of my own accord, and I dreaded “mile run day” in school like it was the plague. At that point, I figured I’d be doomed to choose between either a sedentary life or one full of countless miserable, wasted hours forcing myself to break a sweat when I’d rather be reading a book. I can’t pinpoint exactly when that changed, but sometime within the last few years, I started to kind of like going to the gym. I started to realize (and this is going to sound painfully obvious, so don’t laugh) that exercise is not just for those among us who are ultra-thin and have $200 Nike fitness gear, or something that only some people are “good” at. Instead, it’s an amazingly simple, egalitarian way to improve your life and practice keeping promises to yourself (for real, this was an actual surprise to me). These days, I get twitchy after a few days without a workout, which has me in a bind, because I just injured my foot and am totally out of commission. Keep reading »
On the first Saturday of August, I woke up to a perfectly sunny sky and the news that my vibrant, youthful dad had abruptly passed away of a heart attack in the middle of his kitchen. There are lots of things to be said about the days immediately following that, but to put it lightly, it was the worst. There was nothing I could do to bring my dad back no matter how much I wished for it, and on top of it, I suddenly developed a slew of new responsibilities I never knew existed. As his only child, I was the final decision-maker for everything that happened to his remains, his personal possessions and the plans for his funeral. Luckily for me, several family members stepped in to help me out, but most every plan or legal document needed my signature to move forward, and that was scary. It was like a dark comedy film come to life. Keep reading »
It has been five-and-a-half months since my dad died and yet it sometimes feels like it hasn’t hit me yet. Even though his ashes are sitting in a box in my apartment. He had been absent from my day-to-day life for years, our interactions limited, at their most intimate, to Skype. Then we stopped talking. And then eight months later, he died. After the initial shock, my day-to-day life didn’t seem to be that different. I was used to not speaking to him, and had long ago resigned myself to not seeing him again. I couldn’t figure out how to grieve. Keep reading »
In the few days following my dad’s passing a few weeks ago, I received flowers from friends and coworkers, endless phone calls, emails and Facebook messages expressing condolences, and more than a few people offering to help in any way they could. It was wonderful and comforting, to be sure, and would, I thought, keep me going as I set about tying up all the loose ends of my father’s “estate,” something I assumed would take a few weeks to a month, at most.
Well, a little over a week has passed, the flowers have dried, the calls have died down, and people have rightfully moved on. But, I’m realizing, the shitshow is just beginning for me. I don’t know what I was thinking, assuming that settling my dad’s affairs would be a simple process, but it’s far from it. He didn’t have a will. I won’t have a death certificate for a few weeks, at which point I can then finally establish myself as the executor of his estate, which hopefully no one will contest. (You hear that, uncle of mine?) In the meantime, his house languishes in rural Hawaii, already two months behind on the mortgage payments. The unofficial “tenants” my dad had let stay there over the years have the run of the place; I’ve heard that they’ve already begun selling off his more valuable possessions (there aren’t many) like his TV. And I can’t do anything about it because Hawaii’s tenant laws allow any old person to establish residency in a home by spending a few nights somewhere. Seriously! Crash at someone’s house for a weekend and it’s suddenly your place! I will have to formally evict people who never paid a month’s rent from my dad’s home, as they sell off belongings I can’t even prove are his. It’s a nightmare. Keep reading »